Hon­our for ex-city man

Founder of Myeloma Canada, Tim­mins na­tive receives mer­i­to­ri­ous ser­vice medal

The Daily Press (Timmins) - - NEWS -

The co-founder of Myeloma Canada, who hap­pens to be a Tim­mins na­tive, has been hon­oured for his ded­i­cated ser­vice to the Cana­dian myeloma com­mu­nity.

Aldo Del Col re­ceived the Mer­i­to­ri­ous Ser­vice Medal from the Right Honourable Julie Payette at Rideau Hall in Ot­tawa this week.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­lease is­sued by Myeloma Canada, “Ev­ery day, eight Cana­di­ans are di­ag­nosed with myeloma, an in­creas­ingly preva­lent but rel­a­tively un­known cancer of the plasma cells.

“Aldo Del Col was di­ag­nosed with myeloma in 2002 – a time when there was lit­tle dis­ease aware­ness, lim­ited treat­ment op­tions and even fewer re­sources for Cana­di­ans look­ing for sup­port and in­for­ma­tion. In­stead of al­low­ing the dis­ease to neg­a­tively im­pact him, he used his di­ag­no­sis to make a dif­fer­ence by cre­at­ing a com­mu­nity to serve the needs of Cana­di­ans im­pacted by myeloma.”

Mul­ti­ple myeloma, com­monly re­ferred to as myeloma, can cause sev­eral se­ri­ous health prob­lems af­fect­ing the bones, im­mune sys­tem, kid­neys and red blood cell count, with some of the more com­mon symp­toms in­clud­ing bone pain, re­cur­ring in­fec­tions and fa­tigue, a symp­tom of ane­mia.

The Mer­i­to­ri­ous Ser­vice Medal, pre­sented to Del Col, was cre­ated by Queen El­iz­a­beth II in 1984, as a means of rec­og­niz­ing out­stand­ing level of ser­vice to the com­mu­nity.

In Del Col’s case, he estab­lished a na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion for all Cana­di­ans di­rectly or in­di­rectly im­pacted by mul­ti­ple myeloma.

Del Col “was stunned when he learned he had myeloma, an in­cur­able, but treat­able cancer of the plasma cells in the bone mar­row,” ac­cord­ing to the re­lease. “Di­ag­nosed at 48 years of age, he was un­der­stand­ably dis­traught when he was given three to five years to live. Af­ter the ini­tial shock passed, Aldo be­came mo­ti­vated to learn as much as he could about this rel­a­tively un­known cancer. Alarm­ingly, he dis­cov­ered there was lim­ited in­for­ma­tion and no Cana­dian-spe­cific re­sources.

“It quickly be­came clear to Aldo there was an un­met need to sup­port and em­power the myeloma com­mu­nity in Canada. This drove Aldo’s vision to cre­ate a pa­tient­driven, pa­tient-fo­cused, grass­roots or­ga­ni­za­tion to foster com­mu­nity en­gage­ment, pro­vide ed­u­ca­tional pro­grams, raise aware­ness, advocate for ac­cess to new treat­ments and sup­port Cana­dian myeloma re­search.”

His vision led to the found­ing of Myeloma Canada, a na­tional non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion aimed at fo­cus­ing on the unique needs of the Cana­dian myeloma com­mu­nity.

“When I was di­ag­nosed with myeloma, dis­ease in­for­ma­tion and treat­ment op­tions were lim­ited,” said Del Col. “I iden­ti­fied a need for an in­te­grated na­tional grass­roots or­ga­ni­za­tion to sup­port oth­ers im­pacted by this dev­as­tat­ing dis­ease, to learn about myeloma and to re­as­sure them they were not alone. I wanted to en­cour­age hope and a pos­i­tive out­look for the fu­ture for oth­ers liv­ing with this lit­tle-known cancer. It’s vi­tal to have a na­tional plat­form to make a real dif­fer­ence in the lives of pa­tients and care­givers, re­mind­ing them they aren’t alone.”

More re­cently, Del Col also co­founded the Myeloma Canada Re­search Net­work (MCRN) – the first and only na­tional aca­demic re­search group bring­ing to­gether Canada’s lead­ing myeloma in­ves­ti­ga­tors from coast to coast. Work­ing in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Myeloma Canada, the MCRN drives in­ves­ti­ga­tor-ini­ti­ated Cana­dian re­search fo­cused on op­ti­miz­ing pa­tient out­comes, through col­lab­o­ra­tion and shar­ing of ex­per­tise across 20 cen­tres in Canada.

Dr. Donna Reece, di­rec­tor of the Pro­gram for Mul­ti­ple Myeloma and Re­lated Dis­eases at the Princess Mar­garet Cancer Cen­tre and Chief Med­i­cal Of­fi­cer for the Myeloma Canada Re­search Net­work, said, “Aldo’s de­ter­mi­na­tion in cre­at­ing an in­clu­sive and col­lab­o­ra­tive foun­da­tion to bring to­gether all stake­hold­ers from across Canada has been truly trans­for­ma­tive.

“A tes­ta­ment to Aldo’s vision to foster co­op­er­a­tion is the unique part­ner­ship be­tween Myeloma Canada and the Myeloma Canada Re­search Net­work, which unites pa­tients and doc­tors in their shared goal of ad­vanc­ing home­grown re­search and im­prov­ing over­all out­comes,” Reece added.

Mar­tine Elias, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Myeloma Canada, said Del Col “is an inspiration to the Cana­dian myeloma com­mu­nity. From trav­el­ling coast to coast and in­ter­na­tion­ally to share his story, en­gag­ing with those liv­ing with the dis­ease, en­cour­ag­ing con­ver­sa­tions on dis­ease ex­pe­ri­ence, pro­mot­ing pa­tient-fo­cused re­search, ad­vo­cat­ing for ac­cess to new treat­ments – he is a true Cana­dian hero and de­serv­ing of this honourable award. A firm be­liever in col­lab­o­ra­tion, he con­tin­ues to con­nect and fa­cil­i­tate the di­a­logue be­tween the re­search com­mu­nity, med­i­cal ex­perts, the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal in­dus­try, gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and the pa­tient com­mu­nity to im­prove pa­tient out­comes.”

Myeloma Canada Sci­en­tific Roundtable held an­nu­ally in Mon­treal brings to­gether lead­ing myeloma re­searchers, doc­tors, pa­tients and in­dus­try part­ners.

Over and above his work with Myeloma Canada and the MCRN, Del Col con­trib­utes to sev­eral other or­ga­ni­za­tions and com­mit­tees. He is a mem­ber of the Cana­dian Cancer Tri­als Group (CCTG) Hema­tol­ogy

Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee and the CCTG Molec­u­lar Tu­mour Board. This past spring, he was pre­sented with an Award of Ap­pre­ci­a­tion in recog­ni­tion of his out­stand­ing ded­i­ca­tion to the Cana­dian Cancer Tri­als Group.

In­ter­na­tion­ally, Del Col serves on the board of directors of the In­ter­na­tional Myeloma Foun­da­tion and is an ac­tive con­trib­u­tor to the Global Myeloma Ac­tion Net­work and mem­ber of the In­ter­na­tional Myeloma So­ci­ety. He was re­cently named Mem­ber Emer­i­tus of the On­tario Col­lege of Phar­ma­cists in recog­ni­tion of his work as a com­mu­nity phar­ma­cist. He also con­tin­ues his vol­un­teer work for Hope and Cope at the Jewish Gen­eral Hospi­tal in Mon­treal.

For more in­for­ma­tion about mul­ti­ple myeloma, re­sources and sup­port, visit myeloma.ca.

SuPPLied

Aldo Del Col, a Tim­mins na­tive, was pre­sented this week with the Mer­i­to­ri­ous Ser­vice Medal for es­tab­lish­ing a na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion for all Cana­di­ans im­pacted by mul­ti­ple myeloma, an in­cur­able, but treat­able cancer of the plasma cells in the bone mar­row.

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